An Arizona Planned Parenthood clinic failed to report the rape of an underage girl, thereby facilitating the sexual assault of more young women, according to a complaint filed with the Department of Health Services last week.
The complaint, which calls on the department to investigate the clinic for ignoring mandatory reporting laws, alleges that when the girl’s mother brought her in for an abortion after her rape, a clinic worker told them that filing a sexual assault report would be too much of a “hassle.” The alleged rapist, Tyler Kost, has been charged with 27 felonies for assaulting 11 girls ranging in age from 12 to 17 years old. He is currently being held without bond “to protect the public’s safety,” according to Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles.
Kost allegedly assaulted four more minors between the girl’s abortion in January and his arrest in May.
Shortly after his arrest, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office called on the Arizona attorney general to pursue a criminal investigation of the clinic for failing to report the assault and allocated resources to assist with the investigation. When asked whether they were preparing an investigation, the attorney general’s office declined to comment. Failure to report sexual conduct with a minor in Arizona is a Class 6 felony. Some states impose penalties for acting to prevent a report, although Arizona is not currently one of them.
“The allegations against Planned Parenthood AZ and its employees are not merely that it remained silent, which it is itself a crime,” the complaint explains. “The allegations are that Planned Parenthood deliberately misrepresented sexual abuse on a minor by Mr. Kost by deliberately miscoding a sexual assault as ‘consensual.’ Moreover, because [Arizona state law] 36-2161 requires abortion providers to file a report that includes the reason for an abortion, it is reasonable to conclude that this mandatory report form, even if filed, also contained false information.”
The department complaint, filed by the conservative legal nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, doesn’t concern criminal charges but violations of licensing requirements. According to the Arizona Department of Child Safety, mandatory reporters include “any physician, physician’s assistant, optometrist, dentist, osteopath, chiropractor, podiatrist, behavioral health professional, nurse, psychologist, counselor or social worker…who reasonably believes that a minor is or has been the victim of physical injury, abuse, child abuse, a reportable offense or neglect.”
Under Arizona’s recently passed Women’s Health Protection Act, the Department of Health Services now has the authority to immediately investigate any abortion clinic it has reasonable cause to believe is violating regulations. The legislation was motivated in part by undercover footage released last year of an Arizona abortion doctor admitting nothing would be done to save the life of a child born alive during an abortion procedure, in direct violation of Arizona law.
The complaint calls on the department to make use of that new authority and immediately investigate not just the clinic in Tempe, but all Arizona Planned Parenthood facilities.
A Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado is currently being sued for having sent a 13-year-old girl back with the abusive stepfather, who impregnated her after performing her abortion. Despite her young age, clinic workers neither asked her about potential abuse nor reported suspected abuse after performing the abortion.
“Planned Parenthood has violated the health and safety of our daughters, putting them at risk,” said Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Michael J. Norton. “The Arizona attorney general and Department of Health Services should immediately investigate the Tempe facility to ensure no other young woman is told that sexual assault isn’t worth the ‘hassle’ of filing the mandatory report with police.”